Segment Seven: Reunion of Yin and Yang
“You’ve made all the effort here—taken a chance,” he said. “For this I’m truly appreciative. You are a heaven sent answer.”
Her taut shoulders drooped. She lowered the hand clutching her coat. He reached out and gave a gentle tug to remove it from her grasp. In reflex, she clung to the garment more tightly, creating a veritable shield between them.
“I...think I should just go. Pretend I never came here. Just tear up the contract.” Her voice lacked volume and conviction.
“The document cannot be destroyed. It is legally binding.”
He eyed the rapid palpitations of her heart, visible against the fabric of her lavender sweater.
She jutted her chin. “Don’t be ridiculous. People quit jobs all the time. And, you haven’t shared any proprietary information with me yet.”
With her distracted state, she’d relaxed her grasp on her raincoat. He whisked it onto the rack, then faced her.
“Oh, but I have. That’s why this contract is different. You’ve already been privy to confidential information.”
Her eyes sparked with alertness. “How? We’ve shared tea and very little else.”
She clenched her fists on her hips.
Enough of the slow and easy-going method. He’d waited too many lifetimes to waste another second on resistant drivel. He waved his hand and the room was awash in candlelight. Strains of soothing music played from the recesses of the dark corners. Beyond the windows, night had fallen. A fire danced in the nearby grate.
Katherine gasped and wavered to her knees. “Tell me I’m not going crazy.” She cast a wild glance at the door. One fisted hand covered her mouth. Her eyes welled with unshed tears.
“Who are you? Why me?” The uttered words were little more than a whisper beneath her hand.
“I told you. I’m Gray Stone. You answered the ad. You promised me complete confidence. Have you so little character left that you’d renege on a contract? If you are patient, I promise enlightenment is but a breath away.”
She shook her head, but he wasn’t clear if it meant denial, disbelief, or rejection.
Her breath came in harsh gasps now. She pressed her fingertips to her temples and sat back on her heels. “What kind of drug did you put in the food?”
He crouched until he could make eye contact with her. “Poison you? Never. I did nothing to coerce you. You came of your free will. I distinctly remember you wanted to be a partner in adventure and magic. I’m simply holding you to your pledge. You promised full confidence in me.”
“Yes, but I thought you meant a job.” Her voice strengthened. While maintaining eye contact, she scooted back. With the wall behind her for support, she carefully slid upward. He stood. The candle-light had softened her features, given her skin a golden hue. The rich scent of burning cedar encouraged a serene mood.
“Like....” She tucked her hair behind her ear and glared at him. “Like answering email correspondence, filing, filling in ledgers, listening to clients, booking excursions, that sort of thing.”
“Where’d you get that idea? If I’d wanted a clerk I would have advertised for one. I specifically requested a partner.”
She flattened her palms against the wall, visibly swallowed. “Partner as in lover, wife, not business?” Her eyes sparked. “Your ad should have been under personals, not employment.”
He paused. Her irritation was helping her overcome her fear. The tremble in her body had subsided. Perhaps it was best to play into her ire.
“Can I help it if the gentleman at the local paper mixed up the placement? You answered the ad. Fate brought you here.”
“But you don’t know me.” She thumped her chest with her index finger, then pointed at him. “I don’t know you.”
“Which is why I suggested we get to know each other.” Gray quelled the urge to tap his toe.
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